The World Social Forum, an ‘alter-globalization’ space that has met regularly in different parts of the world since its beginnings in Porto Alegre, Brasil, in 2000, celebrated a Thematic Social Forum in México City’s Zócalo between 2 and 4 May. Entitled “From the people, escape-routes from the global crisis are possible,” the Forum rotated around five themes: alternative economic models; saving the planet; constructing true participatory democracy with respect to human rights; creating an inclusive society based on social rights instead of profits; and pluri-cultural societies. According to the Forum’s organizers, participants from some 40 countries attended the event.
In face of the profundity of the present social and economic crisis, several speakers and participants at the Forum denounced the effects of the hegemonic socio-political system, with increased unemployment and extreme poverty rates, militarization, and environmental destruction being central among them. The Mexican sociologist Pablo González Casanova claimed for example that “the many-headed imperialism is destroying the world in which we live and the Earth on which we reside.” He emphasized that “[i]t is fanciful to believe that capitalism will respect democracy and the sovereignty of nations, whether they be more or less developed; that it will do away with illiteracy and material poverty, pandemics and epidemics, famines and starving people, the sick who go without doctors or medicine, young people without work or schools, families without roofs or trash-service.” The ex-presidential candidate Manuel López Obrador, also present at the Forum, declared that today in México “we suffer from a rapacious, overbearing oligarchy; there is no other option than to destroy it politically, in full combat, non-violently, to establish actual democracy.” Martí Batres Guadarrama, secretary of Social Development of the government of México City, said in a speech that “[t]he global market can create commodities, but it cannot eliminate poverty.” Senator Rosario Ibarra de Piedra proposed the organization of a grand front of the impoverished and working classes to do away with “the infamies of the powerful.” Flavio Sosa, of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), stressed that “the terrorism of the State” could not continue.
With regard to the context in México, the Forum became a space for denunciation of the criminalization of social protest, the attacks on human-rights defenders, the disregard for the interests of the working class, and the militarization that has been experienced in the country in recent years. Martin Esparza, leader of the Mexican Union of Electricians (SME) inaugurated the Forum by promising that, by attending, its participants from other lands would come to familiarize themselves with the “real México,” which has suffered a drop-off in remittances and tourism, an “obsession” among the authorities in doing away with employment, and the sacrifice of the people with the passing of higher taxes, the price-increase in services, and the millions of impoverished Mexicans.
For more information (in Spanish):
World Social Forum, in the Zócalo (La Jornada, 2 de mayo)
The Mexican World Social Forum 2010 is inaugurated in the Zócalo of México City (La Jornada, 5 de mayo)
Social activists from more than 40 countries analyze the crisis and the role of the people (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)
Call to denounce the violation of human rights in México before the European Union (La Jornada, 4 de mayo)
Call to society to defend itself from the commercial, consumerist system (La Jornada, 5 de mayo)
The struggle for another world begins by preventing divisions among the poor: González Casanova (La Jornada, 3 de mayo)